A 66-54 victory for the Knox College women’s basketball team over Lawrence University last Friday was essentially decided by five minutes and 39 seconds.
At the 2:20 mark of the first half, Knox led the Vikings just 29-27, but by the 16:41 mark of the second, the Prairie Fire led 44-27.
Senior guard Jenny Haskell initiated the 15-0 run by knocking down a three pointer, then got an assist on a three-pointer by junior Abby Owens. Owens’ basket was her fourth and the team’s sixth three-point field goal of the half. The junior guard has been on fire in recent weeks, something her coach says has reflected hard work.
“I think that Abby is having a terrific season, due in large part to the hard work she put in over the summer,” head coach Emily Cline said. “She is shooting the ball well and her decision-making is a lot better too. I think she is definitely our most improved player. She is also very scrappy and not afraid to go up against bigger opponents.”
In the opening minutes of the second half, back-to-back jumpers by junior forward Kelly Ricketts were followed by a layup from Haskell and the Prairie Fire never looked back.
Haskell finished with a double-double (20 points, 10 rebounds), while Ricketts (20 points, eight rebounds) had her best performance since a 21 point outburst against Augustana back in December.
“Kelly played much better offensively this past weekend. I think Kelly is capable of great things, so I look forward to her taking on more of a scoring role on the team,” Cline said.
The win gave Knox a season sweep of Lawrence (0-14, 0-9 MWC), a feat they were unable to match against Beloit the following day.
The Prairie Fire, who had beaten the Buccaneers 65-56 just eight days prior, held tough in the first half.
Sophomore Kristin McDonald, whose solid performance in the first match-up helped seal the win for Knox, played a key role once again, scoring five points in the last minute to pull the team within a 31-29 halftime deficit.
But Knox was unable to keep up with Beloit (5-9, 3-6 MWC) in a high scoring second half, and fell to a 77-68 defeat.
“We were not playing consistently on the defensive end of the court, and did not rebound well either,” Cline said, “but I was happy that we took better care of the ball.”
Knox (5-11, 4-7 MWC) has yet to win back-to-back games this season, but now enters a favorable spot in the schedule.
“I am excited to be at home for the next four games,” Cline said “I think that playing at home is always a lot of fun and we look forward to it. We still have room for improvement, and I am confident that we will reach our potential in these next several games.”
Knox begins the home stand this Saturday against Illinois College (8-7, 6-4 MWC). It will be the first match-up between the teams this season. Tip-off is 5 p.m.